Mechanically Beautiful: Epic Mickey

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“Epic Mickey” is a platforming game designed by Junction Point and released by Disney Interactive Studios. The game centers around the iconic Disney character, Mickey Mouse. This game shows a different side to Mickey Mouse, portraying him as both an epic hero and a dimensional character.

The game begins long before Mickey ever achieved his claim to fame. One day, Mickey wakes up to discover his mirror making a strange noise. He further investigates and soon finds himself stepping through the mirror. Inside, a sorcerer named Yen Sid (aka Disney backwards) has created a very intricate model of a world for the forgotten characters and parks of Disney. After Yen Sid leaves, Mickey tinkers with the model and attempts to make a statue of himself. Mickey accidentally creates an evil creature known as the Shadow Blot. In his panicked attempts to erase the creature, he ends up throwing paint and paint thinner on it, causing the model to become a new, twisted world known as Wasteland. Mickey escapes without Yen Sid catching him and goes on to achieve much success in the real world, all while Wasteland falls to ruin.

Source: gamesradar.com

Many decades later, Mickey had completely forgotten about the incident with the Shadow Blot. Mickey is quickly reminded of this when the Shadow Blot returns through the mirror and drags Mickey back to Wasteland. When he returns, he is met with all sorts of forgotten and unknown characters, including one of Disney’s first creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald has had his friendly heart twisted over the years due to jealousy of Mickey and his fame. The world that was once his is now owned by the Blot. The Blot and the Mad Doctor have taken Mickey back with a plan to steal his heart, since they do not have any, and escape Wasteland. This has a very similar element of another Disney game, “Kingdom Hearts”.

Mickey escapes and acquires Yen Sid’s paintbrush, which is the main weapon and focal point of the game. This paintbrush is what causes “Epic Mickey” to be a truly beautiful and different game. Throughout the game, Mickey can use the paintbrush to either add or remove objects from Wasteland. This concept is the main idea for getting your way through the levels as well as defeating enemies. Mickey can either use paint to befriend his enemies for a brief period of time and have them fight for him, or use the paint thinner to destroy them. Mickey can also restore the areas of Wasteland that have been ruined over the decades since his accident. Depending on whether you restore or destroy Wasteland, the appearance of Mickey changes throughout the game. He can either appear slightly smudged if more neutral or evil choices are made, or like the classic, bright Mickey if good, heroic actions are made. (There was originally a third Mickey that looked much more sinister, but it was eventually scrapped.) The ending also slightly differs depending on what actions you take. While the overall victory over the monstrous Shadow Blot and restoral of Wasteland is the same, there are some things that are shown to you by Yen Sid that are either positive or negative. There are various characters throughout the game, such as animatronic versions of other popular Disney characters like Donald and Daisy, that you could have helped. If you did not help these characters, the game shows the bad situations they end up in after you escape Wasteland. This shows another side to the traditional Mickey Mouse character that we are all so familiar with.

Much like “Kingdom Hearts”, this game does a great job of incorporating the Disney world into an interesting story. The concept of another world for the forgotten characters of Disney is very interesting and different. Most of the characters in Wasteland I had never heard of before, like Oswald or the Gremlins. It was a lot of fun to learn about all of these forgotten characters. A lot of areas of Wasteland were also forgotten amusement parks or rides, which led to a very cool and apocalyptic aesthetic. The world of Wasteland is so creative and dark. Wasteland is to Disney as the Wonderland of “Alice: Madness Returns” is to the original Wonderland. It’s a twisted, dark, and fascinating counterpart to the original. While the overall world of Wasteland is very dark, it manages to incorporate a creative use of color. The spots where Mickey can use his paintbrush are made separate from the other areas of Wasteland. Areas where Mickey can restore the world appear almost like a spot where a puzzle piece should go. The edges of it are highlighted in blue, signaling that paint can be used. The visual effect of creating the object also looks quite interesting, as is the same with destroying objects or villains. Other choices of color are also clever, mainly giving Wasteland a bright undertone. While most of the world remains dark, various patches will remain a glowing, bright color. This gives Wasteland the effect of a seedy city at nighttime, surrounded by neon lights. It also helps add to the overall theme of art that is evident throughout the game, showing the importance of color on setting.

The apocalyptic aesthetic of Wasteland is my favorite feature of “Epic Mickey”. Seeing various attractions left to ruin reminds me of a zombie/survival game. Having this idea in the game is very different from the other kinds of Disney imagery we normally think of. (Once again, this is very similar to “Kingdom Hearts”. Both of these games have many similar elements.) Adding this to the element of abandoned characters and zombie-esque enemies contributes to the interesting twist on the world of Disney. The cutscenes in between gameplay have a different art style to it than the rest of the game, adding another interesting effect. This kind of effect is also seen in “Alice: Madness Returns” and “Mirror’s Edge”. It changes from the 3D style of the game to a 2D, painted style. The idea of cutscenes having a different style is one I am a huge fan of. There are also traveling sections between worlds that go to a sidescroller gameplay, based off of various old films starring Mickey (except for only a few). This gives a nice nod to some of Disney’s older works, but also contributes to the story and art of the game. The music of “Epic Mickey” is also an impressive element of the game. There are some moments where it is lighter and whimsical, reminding the player of the original Disneyland we all know and love. However, most of the time the music is dark and adds to the visual theme of Wasteland. Having music that contributes to the gameplay is extremely important, so it’s good that they decided to incorporate it correctly.

Source: videogamesblogger.com

While the overall gameplay of “Epic Mickey” isn’t my favorite, there is no doubt that this game is a beautiful work of art. The concept of Wasteland and the addition of forgotten characters is a great idea. The creative twist on Disney and the apocalyptic theme is an interesting addition to a classic character and world. The story is different from normal Disney works, and the dimensions to Mickey’s character are also new and exciting. The music is well incorporated into the game and helps fit the theme. And, of course, your main weapon is a paintbrush, which is very interesting. Overall, this game is a unique experience that shows a new dimension to the classic Disney we all know and love.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment what you think below! If you haven’t played “Epic Mickey” yet, you can snag it here.

Featured image courtesy of wallgang.com.